New Delhi: Yuki Bhambri's performance against New Zealand was no less than a top-50 player and even the staunchest of his critics would have changed their opinion about the youngster had they seen him play in Christchurch, says India's Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali.
Yuki led India to World Group Play-offs as he remained undefeated in the Asia\Oceania Group tie against the Kiwis in extreme cold conditions.
He outclassed Michael Venus and Jose Statham in his singles matches, winning both the encounters without losing his serve even once.
"Yuki was definitely the star of the week. He played unbelievable tennis in both matches and for a lot of people who wrote him off after the Serbia match last year would have had a totally different opinion of him this week. Yuki played tennis like a top 50 player this week," Zeeshan told PTI in an exclusive chat from Christchurch.
Yuki delivered under pressure, something he could not do when India took on much-superior Serbia in Bangalore last September. Yuki had lost the deciding fifth rubber at that time, leaving fans and experts disappointed.
The coach said it was only a notion that it should have been a cake walk for India against the lower-ranked Kiwi players. Zeeshan argued that they were playing in difficult conditions.
"On paper we were always the better team but playing any country in their home tie is always tough. Over here of course the weather was something we were not used to. Sometimes minus 4 in the morning and going up to 5-7 maximum in the day. Plus we played indoor with no heating system," Zeeshan said.
The former Davis Cupper said he always expected a tough doubles rubber. The strong pairing of world number 10 Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni lost to Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak on day 2 to put India in a spot of bother.
"It definitely was a tough position to be in, considering we could have been up 2-1 coming in to the third day. We have better singles players and were counting on them to deliver the goods. Doubles was always going to be tough given that both the New Zealand players are top 55 in the world and they played flawless tennis," he said.
"We came in on the third day with confidence. We knew both our boys were playing well and if we kept to the game plan and if both Somdev and Yuki did what they do best, we would be okay."
Zeeshan said "it was definitely a big win for us".
"It gives us another shot at a place in the world group.
If we lost this tie then playing China in China was not something any of us were looking forward to," he concluded.